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Overfishing and poorly managed fisheries threaten shark and ray populations throughout the world. The need for concerted action and investment in fisheries management, to stop the downward trend in many vulnerable shark and ray populations, is urgent.

Shark and ray fisheries can be shifted towards sustainability if meaningful reforms are enabled, and impediments to science-based catch limits and the fulfillment of other commitments are proactively addressed. This will require increased advocacy and management capacity, and the promotion of scientific innovation aimed at new approaches and tools to enhance reporting, monitoring, and traceability. Collectively, and starting with a number of priority species and countries, these interventions aim to ensure that fishing for sharks and rays is sustainable.

2025 Sustainable Fisheries Goal:

Fisheries-driven overexploitation and waste of sharks and rays are substantially reduced through increased adoption and implementation of sound, science-based fisheries management measures in at least 40 priority countries and in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

Priority Species 

Based on key fishery-related risk factors, near-term interventions are proposed for approximately 250 shark and ray species, including:

  • 116 frequently caught, under-managed shark and ray species classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, such as devil rays, porbeagles, makos, and blue sharks.

  • 127 Near Threatened species also lacking basic fisheries management safeguards.

  • A small number of species listed as globally or regionally Endangered, which continue to be fished, either directly or incidentally, in significant numbers.

  • Species of Least Concern should also benefit from improvements to fisheries rules and systems.

Plan of Action

Both bottom-up and top-down interventions are identified, from piloting local alternative livelihood projects to increasing provisions for the conservation of threatened species in regional and global agreements. A range of activities are grouped into seven strategic areas:

  • Support effective implementation of IPOA-Sharks, including the development and implementation of comprehensive, frequently reviewed NPOAs, science-based catch limits, and strong compliance mechanisms by top shark-catching countries

  • Encourage the national implementation of conservation commitments contained in international agreements, with a focus on RFMOs, CITES, and CMS.

  • Facilitate science-based fishery management at national and sub-national levels, through the provision of technical assistance and other means of support.

  • Investigate and promote means to minimize incidental fishing mortality of sharks and rays.

  • Develop and promote new models for sustainable shark and ray fisheries and foster transitioning to sustainability.

  • Improve the collection, reporting, and analysis of information to guide improved fisheries management.

  • Foster enabling conditions for positive change in shark and ray fisheries management.

Selected Activities
  • Promoting and, where appropriate, assisting in the completion and implementation of Shark Assessment Reports (SARs) and NPOAs

  • Promoting adoption of science-based, best-practice fishing limits within relevant RFMOs.

  • Reviewing the feasibility of economic alternatives to reduce shark and ray fishing mortality with shark fishing communities.

  • Encouraging research on devices, gear modifications and new gear types that minimize incidental capture and mortality of sharks and rays.

  • Developing and trialing a tool for the rapid collection of species-specific data to ensure comprehensive and accurate collection of national catch data.

  • Working to build capacity for accurate reporting of species-specific catch data to FAO.

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